Individuals may not even be aware that they grind their teeth as part of what is known as bruxism. The bruxism condition and symptoms can range from mild to severe, with the causes being varied and having to be identified through dental screening.
Our clinic provides patients with an oral screening for signs of teeth grinding to ensure appropriate treatment is received for the cause of tooth grinding. This is done before symptoms develop further bruxism, orthodontic and health conditions.
Health Effects of Bruxism
The condition not only causes tooth wear and dental attrition but may lead to tooth cavities, fractured and broken teeth, tooth decay, root canal infection, oral disease, loose teeth and tooth loss.
Orthodontic conditions such as malocclusion and jaw disorders may also result from bruxism. Communication and chewing ability may be impeded affecting nutritional choices and sense of well-being, particularly if pain and discomfort is experienced.
Untreated bruxism may accentuate health conditions such as headaches and migraine, raising stress and blood pressure levels which increase the risk of heart disease. The inner dental pulp within teeth may also become exposed raising the risk of dental and gum infection. Oral disease may spread throughout the body triggering other medical conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular and immune disorders.
Dental attrition not only affects oral and physical health, but it may also alter physical appearance and attractiveness. When teeth appear unsightly and affect facial expression, self-esteem can decline and cause insecurity or even depression. Mental health may be affected by dental attrition and orthodontic conditions.
Identifying Symptoms of Bruxism
Symptoms of bruxism include grinding teeth when thinking or focusing during the day or when asleep. Constant teeth grinding can cause teeth sensitivity, toothache, headache and jaw and neck pain. Pains in the jaw or an incessant headache are signs of bruxism, as is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
If left untreated, bruxism symptoms may become more severe leading to compounded dental trauma, oral disease and neurological conditions.
Treatments for Bruxism
The oral and overall health effects of bruxism can be extensive so it is vital to seek treatment. We provide patients with a range of treatments for bruxism, dental attrition and associated orthodontic conditions.
Dental treatments for teeth grinding include custom-made mouth or night guards to prevent tooth-on-tooth contact. One such device is the NTI-tss device which is made of clear plastic and may be fitted over the two front teeth of the upper arch to suppress teeth clenching reflex. This prevents teeth grinding during sleep and reduces bruxism symptoms.
Worn teeth may be restored with composite fillings, inlays, onlays and dental crowns to rebuild healthy tooth structure, improve bite and enhance oral function and aesthetics. If bruxism results in dental pulp infection, root canal treatment may be provided to prevent the spread of infection and disease. This is also done to preserve existing tooth roots and dental structure.
If extensive tooth root and dental damage necessitate tooth extraction, dental implants are an option to serve as a substitute that securely anchor artificial teeth replacements, such as crowns, bridges and dentures. If patients experience tooth loss from trauma, decay or disease, tooth replacement treatments are available for one or more missing teeth.
Prevention of Bruxism
Dentists encourage patients to attend regular dental check-ups that include screening for teeth grinding and oral conditions, such as bruxism, tooth decay, receding gums and malocclusion. Patients are guided by dentists on healthy oral hygiene practice, including proper teeth brushing techniques to reduce the risk of dental attrition and abrasion.
Depending on the cause of bruxism dentists may refer patients to General Practitioners (GPs) or other medical professionals where necessary for appropriate treatment, such as anxiety-reducing medications and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Patients may then receive holistic treatment for the prevention of bruxism.